The ArmaLite-branded AR-10 and AR-15 disappeared from the marketplace by 1962 as the company sold its rights and patents concerning the designs to Colt’s Manufacturing Company and the limited manufacturing license with the Dutch Artillerie Inrichtingen (A.I.). firm expired. After that, Colt was the only all-up maker of completed ARs until the late 1970s when other companies started to come on line.
When I say “other companies” I am talking about now-classic black rifle makers Bushmaster, DPMS, and Olympic Arms, all of which faded out in 2020.
Well, for two out of three of those, the demise was short-lived and they are now back for 2021, under new ownership.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Founded in 1978 in Windham, Maine, from the remnants of the even older Gwinn Arms company (see the Arm Pistol), Bushmaster was one of the first makers of AR-style firearms outside of Colt. Its line included the lightweight Carbon-15, the massive .50-cal BA50, the seriously weird M17S Bullpup rifle, the XM-10, the XM-15 rifles, and others. Importantly, the firm was one of the first to market flattop optics-ready ARs and AR pistols, beating many of its competitors to the punch.
The BA-50, one of Bushmaster’s more interesting products
Then the Cerebrus Group/Freedom Group came along and upset the whole apple cart. They closed the Maine factory, moved operations to North Carolina and later Alabama under Remington’s umbrella, and just generally traded the company’s rep in for poorly QC’d guns without further innovation. Then, in 2019, Remington snuffed the brand out to try to exit the black rifle verse under legal pressure.
Well, Bushmaster is back, now owned by Franklin Armory, so stay tuned.